If you happen to be one of the few cinephiles who longs for the days when Lars Von Trier still made his guerilla style Dogme 95 films with nothing but a camcorder, then Naked Cinema: Mercury Falling might just satisfy the craving.
Directed by UBC's Tom Scholte in collaboration with various BFA and MFA students and alumni of the theatre and film department, Mercury Falling revolves around the staff and customers of the newly opened Vancouver bar "Mercury."
From this premise alone, the film goes on to feature various scenarios that occur within the bar, including, but not limited to, an overtly pretentious artist seducing amateur poets, a socially awkward waitress trying to do her job well while two others compete for tips and an illegal immigrant with a fascination for cross dressing.
Admittedly, these examples sound like they’re worthy only of the occasional short CollegeHumor skit on YouTube, but it's the guts of these set-ups, the dialogue, the characters and the humour of the film that keeps the audience's attention.
Much of the film's humour can be attributed to character interactions that create a well-balanced mix of realistic and perfectly timed slapstick. One notable example is Lillian (Catherine Fergusson), the socially awkward waitress at the bar, whose actions can at times seem cringe-worthy or utterly unthinkable, yet the performance, writing and delivery almost make these look plausible.
It is all the more fitting that the film is done in the Dogme 95 hyper-documentary format. This style involves only using the natural lighting, using digital handheld cameras and avoiding any audio insertions, such as music or re-dubbing for clarity. This technique further added to the feeling of plausibility -- no matter how ridiculous the scenario.
That said, this style of filmmaking is not for everyone. The Dogme format can be, at times, jarring for some and has an unpolished look that can distract the audience from the meat of the film.
Though the film's strengths stem from these techniques, the lengthy character interactions and the use of few locations makes the performance seem more suited for the stage over film.
Overall though, the film still has a juicy amount of well-executed drama. Mercury Falling and its cast are ready to serve you a good amount of crazy social hijinks.
Mercury Falling will be playing at the Norm on January 27 at 7:30 p.m. You can purchase your tickets online.